The Border 5/Migration 5 is a partnership between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S. designed to enhance international cooperation and coordination on border security. U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Information and Technology Assistant Commissioner and Chief Information Officer Sonny Bhagowalia serves as the U.S. delegation head for the CBP B5M5 CIO Tech Forum, which is a subsection of the overall B5M5 engagement focused on technology related to border security and immigration.
OIT produced the Technology Strategy FY 2020-FY 2024 document to guide the B5M5 CIO Tech Forum’s efforts to provide scalable, efficient, cost-effective technology that enables continuous and secure access to data across members. The forum continues to work together to develop a Five Eyes Technology Collaboration Strategy to leverage each other’s investments, develop fit-for-purpose emerging technologies, and build information-sharing capabilities on the six technologies. These include digitalization, artificial intelligence, machine learning, biometrics, data analytics, augmented and virtual reality, and distributed ledger (blockchain) technology.
The Border of the Future Strategic Plan, which calls for the B5M5 to implement a Touchless Border by 2030, guides this strategy. It ensures a seamless traveler continuum among members. The strategy document identifies emerging technologies that countries can leverage in their pursuit of a Touchless Border, establishes common standards to facilitate better data-sharing and systems integration, and pinpoints key trends, threats, and common resolutions the information and technology offices of each B5M5 agency will face over the coming year.
While this plan guides the Tech Forum’s efforts and helps prioritize resolutions, it is also broad enough to enable the international body to address opportunities and challenges as they arise, like the secure sharing of information and a joint approach to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
As part of the effort to better share data between the Five Eye countries, the CIO Tech Forum also formed the Single Window Working Group to create a “single window’ through which partner countries can view each other’s immigration and customs data sets. The intended benefits of a single window between partner countries for commodity data include increased compliance, reduction in processing times, shared risk determination, increased digitization, transparency for industry, and overall cost reduction in trade. With the goal of determining how to integrate each country’s single window platform into a central repository and working toward the possibility of eventual integration, the SWWG decided to use COVID-19 related products as a proof of concept.
The SWWG focused on COVID-19 related products of interest, such as medical supplies, cleaning and disinfectant products, personal care products, and personal protective equipment for low-level commodity data exchanges. These exercises were used to assess the utility of sharing data between the B5M5 and potential applications. By focusing on the components of data sharing for a small group of data, the SWWG was able to determine the overall feasibility of sharing harmonized data for the identified commodities between the Five. The group’s analysis has proven it is feasible to exchange import and export data for specific commodities using common codes and utilizing the international standard as a base. However, additional analysis and stakeholder involvement will be required to determine the true benefits of data sharing between the five countries. By demonstrating the feasibility of sharing data sets with lower-risk commodities like personal protective equipment, the SWWG demonstrated the potential to harmonize data sets for more critical commodities.
The U.S. participated in a 90-minute-deep dive series where participating countries provided briefs on topics such as approaches to vaccine certification for arriving passengers, new developments in technology to enhance traveler facilitation and reduce wait times, contemporary cybersecurity concerns, and trade facilitation. The deep dives give each partner country an opportunity to share its approach and outlook in different fields of technology. During the deep dives, each partner country provided a 10-minute brief on its efforts and lessons learned and is then followed by a discussion. Future deep dive sessions are planned and will cover a variety of relevant and timely topics.
The overall B5M5 CIO Tech Forum will continue to provide opportunities to communicate and strengthen relationships between the Five Eye countries with the focus on using technology to improve common interests.